The Instigator
Exlonghorn
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Tigerglide
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Foreign Language study should be a H.S. or college graduation requirement

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/4/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,358 times Debate No: 48384
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
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Exlonghorn

Con

Currently many high schools and universities require completing 1-4 years of foreign language study as a requirement for graduation. My position is that foreign language should be elective and not a requirement. Your positions is that it should be a requirement.
Tigerglide

Pro

Classical education throughout the centuries has always included a foreign language...typically Latin, but not exclusively. The benefits to learning a foreign language are not just the ability to speak it but the immersion into another cultural thought process that is embedded within the language. The excercise of learning a foreign language trains the mind to think through issues from other perspectives and broadens the scope of one's worldview and problem solving skills.
Debate Round No. 1
Exlonghorn

Con

Exlonghorn forfeited this round.
Tigerglide

Pro

Tigerglide forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Exlonghorn

Con

Here are my arguments in no particular priority.

1) Not all students will desire or need fluency in a foreign language. You might argue this isn't about need, but that fact that it is not a need and begs the question of why it should be a requirement.

2) Most jobs students will perform after high school or college will not require fluency in a foreign language. Yes, some jobs WILL require foreign language fluency, but in those cases students should be free to electively choose that option.

3) There are typically Spanish, French, German are offered in high school. Over 34 languages are offered at major universities (www.utexas.edu). What are the odds that a U.S. student will pick a usable language?

4) Few students in the U.S. learn more than one language, based on high school curriculum guides that typically only make room for one language along with the other requirements (math, science, history, etc.) This further underscores the unlikelihood that students with pick and learn a language that actually ends up being useful.

5) Current high school language options are not in step with global demographics. Mandarin Chinese has the largest number of native speakers in the world, and its influence on global trade for the U.S. is obvious. However, it is rarely offered in high school, where students would have the best chance of gaining fluency. The same is true for Hindi and Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese, and Punjabi which are ranked 4th through 10th in number of native speakers....all ahead of German. French ranks 18th.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

6) Fluency in a foreign language is fleeting. Use it or lose it. For most students, learning a foreign language without a need to continue using it after school will eventually result in loss of fluency without special effort.

7) I am not including in this conversation the need for bilingual education for ESL students (English as a Second Language). These folks have obviously different needs. I am referring only to native English speakers learning a language other than English.

8) Con might argue that learning a foreign language enhances one's "cognitive flexibility" -- that is, bilingual people (including children) are better able to see things from two or more perspectives and to understand how other people think. (Hakuta, 1986). Bilinguals also have better auditory language skills (i.e., they can discriminate sounds of a language more finely) than monolinguals, and they mature earlier than mono-linguals in terms of linguistic abstraction (i.e., ability to think and talk about language). (Albert and Obler, 1978, cited in Cummins, 1994). However, these studies do not address other methods that also improve cognitive flexibility, and they do not indicate that learning a foreign language is the most efficient or effective means for improving cognitive flexibility. Schools should employ the most effective means possible for enhancing cognitive flexibility.
Ritter, S. M., Damian, R. I., Simonton, D. K., van Baaren, R. B., Strick, M., Derks, J., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2012). Diversifying experiences enhance cognitive flexibility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 961-964

9) Con might also argue that learning a foreign language delays dementia and Alzheimer's. Several studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent. For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5. However, again there are many ways to delay dementia including exercise, diet, sleep, stress management, social interaction. None of these things are addressed by learning a foreign language in a classroom, and the benefits of these other activities have more benefits than the narrow cognitive benefit of language instruction.
http://www.helpguide.org...

10) Con might argue that learning a foreign language can improve memory, decision making, perception, or multitasking. While these things are true, again learning a second language is not the only way, or necessarily the best way, to achieve these same benefits.

11) Con might argue that languages are necessary for college acceptance. This is a logical flaw that revolves around languages being an admissions factor, and is normally driven in public institutions by legislative mandates.

12) Con might argue that learning a foreign language makes one more worldly, and gives one a broader, more-open-minded view of the world. Again, there are many other ways to accomplish this including travel, diverse work assignments, study abroad opportunities.

13) English is the official language of more countries than any other language in the world. This limits any arguments for the practical need to learn a language other than English.
Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor. " 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc

14) English is second only to Mandarin in the number of speakers around the globe.
Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor. " 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc

15) U.S. students lag significantly on standardized tests ranking 17th in reading, 23rd in science, and 31st in mathematics. If requiring a foreign language is so effective at improving cognition, then U.S. students should perform better, right? Regardless, shouldn't more effort and energy be spent improving core capability in these subjects, with arguably much more practical economic benefits as well as the similar cognitive benefits.
http://www.oecd.org...

That covers it. Thanks for reading!
Tigerglide

Pro

Tigerglide forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Senatus 2 years ago
Senatus
Latin is a dead language. You can still learn it, but languages like French and German are much more useful.
Posted by Tigerglide 2 years ago
Tigerglide
Classical education throughout the centuries has always included a foreign language...typically Latin, but not exclusively. The benefits to learning a foreign language are not just the ability to speak it but the immersion into another cultural thought process that is embedded within the language. The excercise of lesrning a foreign language trains the mind to think through issues from other perspectives and broadens the scope of one's worldview and problem solving skills.
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